In honor of Halloween, they're heeere!
Well, not quite yet, but as you've probably heard, Facebook is officially testing buttons that go beyond the traditional "Like" option. After years of users calling for more distinct ways to express themselves, the network is finally relenting with its new Reactions tool, currently being testing in both Ireland and Spain.
It's only a matter of time before the feature rolls out to audiences worldwide, so let's get a jump start on how Facebook's Reactions will change your social media marketing strategy.
1. Improved Analytics
Perhaps the most important impact of Facebook Reactions is what it will do to your analytics. Let's hear from the network itself on this topic:
"We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content on Facebook. During this test, Page owners will be able to see Reactions to all of their posts on Page insights. Reactions will have the same impact on ad delivery as Likes do."
In other words, once Reactions make their way to Facebook's Insights platform, they'll give brands a better idea of how their posts are performing.
Previously, "engagement" insights were limited to Likes, comments, shares, and web clicks. Adding a wider range of emotions to that spectrum should allow brands to gauge their audience's true reaction to a post and adjust their strategy accordingly. If, for example, you post about a new promotion but receive an emotion that's different from what you were expecting, you may look at and adjust similar posts in the future to better align with your plans.
Finally, the last sentence in the above quote is more meaningful than you might think. In it, Facebook essentially clarifies that Reactions will be a subset of the "Like" button, not a new, standalone measure for engagement. As you probably know, posts and ads perform better the more engagement they receive, and Facebook is letting brands know that the algorithm for determining this reach will not change as a result of these new buttons. A "sad" emoji will impact your post the same way a "Like" would.
2. Managing Negative Reactions
Even as a subset of Likes, Reactions could have a serious impact on how you communicate with your audience. So far, that communication has been surprisingly binary: when users like a post, they hit the 'Like' button. When they don't, they have the opportunity to comment, but most times they simply ignore it. Broadening the spectrum of potential responses means potentially inviting negative responses to your posts.
Mashable has a great article on this subject, and though it applies mainly to interpersonal relationships, much of it rings true for brands as well. Making feedback more accurate always sounds great, but are you sure you're ready to see your users disagree with you? What happens if you write a feature post about one of your staff members and receive back a bunch of "angry" and "sad" emoji? Remember, these Reactions are as important, and will increase your reach as much as Likes currently do.
Every business has their own way of dealing with less-than-desirable responses from current and potential customers. Now, it might be time for you to consider a strategy of dealing with Facebook feedback - no matter how negative it may become.
3. Appeasing Your Audience
Allow us to make a prediction concerning the previous section: many marketers, but especially those who receive negative initial reactions from their users through the new feature, will start to put out posts specifically designed to appease their audience, making sure that their output offends no one and doesn't invite even the slightest possibility of negativity.
Taking aside the various pranksters that will undoubtedly pop up as long as the feature is relatively new, will this approach of appeasing the audience work? Will it lead to a more friendly environment on Facebook, or to a situation in which posts become less meaningful because their substance has been lost?
Only time will tell. We may even begin to see opposite situations where, thanks to the fact that Facebook's algorithm isn't changing, intentionally controversial posts become effective. The only thing we know for certain is that thanks to Reactions, marketers need to begin to consider their audience's potential reactions long before actually publishing a post.
Though the initial response to Facebook Reactions has been rather negative, make no mistake: your audience wanted this feature. As it turns out, Facebook not only implemented the new feature because users kept clamoring for it, but also decided on its specific emoji based on scanning user comments.
Facebook users, particularly millennials, have long waited for opportunities to express themselves without taking the time to write a comment. Now that this feature looks to be in place for the foreseeable future, it's time to adjust your social media marketing strategy accordingly.
This post originally appeared on The Fried Side blog